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Ahead of NSA talks, India & Pak in war of words

As Islamabad upped the ante ahead of talks between Indian and Pakistani National Security Advisers by raising the Kashmir issue and protesting against the bail granted to the Samjhauta blast accused Swami Aseemanand, India retorted in a late-night tweet that the only struggle in Kashmir was Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

On Friday, at Pakistan’s Independence Day function, High Commissioner Abdul Basit said: “Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause”.

Mr. Basit’s comments came on the day Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz confirmed to the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad that he would lead a delegation for the talks with his counterpart, Ajit Doval, on August 23 and 24. While India has stressed that terrorism will be the main topic of discussions, Mr. Basit’s speech is an indication that the Kashmir issue will be brought up.

Mr. Basit’s speech is in sharp contrast to the one he gave last year, which focussed on the “importance of freedom” and coincidentally preceded the then scheduled talks between the Foreign Secretaries, which were subsequently cancelled by India.

The recent ceasefire violations and cross-border terror had cast a shadow on the NSA talks. In a departure from tradition, India has decided that it will neither offer nor accept sweets and gifts from Pakistan on the border to mark the respective Independence Day of both countries.

Pakistan retaliated to India’s protest against bail to the 26/11 accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, by summoning the Deputy High Commissioner and lodging a protest over the National Investigation Agency’s decision not to oppose the bail to Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts which left 42 Pakistanis dead.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 3:49:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ahead-of-nsa-talks-india-pak-in-war-of-words/article7542152.ece

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